South Carolina House Counsel

Rule 405 of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules allows out-of-state attorneys who are employed by a business organization in South Carolina to practice law in South Carolina on a limited basis.

Eligibility
Attorneys must:

  • Be employed in the legal department or under the supervision of a legal department of a corporation, company, partnership, or association (business employer) that does not provide legal services in South Carolina to the public or its employees. If the business is not a South Carolina corporation, company, partnership or association, the business employer must be qualified or otherwise lawfully engaged in business in South Carolina.
  • Perform most of his or her duties for the business employer in South Carolina and have his or her principal office in South Carolina.
  • Provides legal services in South Carolina solely for the business employer or the parent or subsidiary of the employer.
  • Be members in good standing in each jurisdiction where admitted to practice law.

Practice
Attorneys issued a limited certificate of admission to practice law may represent his or her employer in the following ways:

  • Before any State agency in administrative proceedings if authorized by the agency’s regulations.
  • Before the magistrate’s court in civil proceedings upon presentation of a copy of the certificate to the court.
  • Before any other South Carolina court or tribunal only if the attorney associates as co-counsel with a member of the South Carolina Bar licensed under Rule 402 (South Carolina Pro Hac Vice). The associated attorney must be present at all trials, hearings, depositions, and other proceedings, and must be required to sign all pleadings, motions, and other documents required to be signed by an attorney. A copy of the certificate is presented to the court or other tribunal.

Attorneys may appear pro se and fulfill the duties of a member of the reserve components of the armed forces or the National Guard.

Practice under a limited certificate is deemed to be the active engagement in the practice of law and subjects the attorneys to all duties and obligations of active members of the South Carolina Bar and to all rules in the practice of law. These rules include the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Rules for Law Disciplinary Enforcement.

Attorneys engaging in practice that exceeds what is permitted may be subject to discipline under Rule 413, a suspension or revocation of the limited license, or being held in contempt of court for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

Application and Certification
Attorneys are required to file an application with the Clerk of the South Carolina Supreme Court. The application includes a certificate of good standing from each jurisdiction where the attorney has been admitted to practice law, a statement signed by a representative of the attorney’s employer stating that the attorney is employed by the business and provides legal services solely for the business, and a non-refundable application fee.

Termination
The limited certificate expires if the attorney ceases when the attorney:

  • Is no longer employed at the business employer.
  • Is otherwise admitted to the South Carolina Bar.
  • Fails to fulfill the obligations required of active members of the South Carolina Bar.
  • Is suspended or disbarred from the practice of law in South Carolina or any other jurisdiction.
  • Fails to be a member of the bar in good standing before the highest court of at least one other state or the District of Columbia.

Upon expiration, the attorney must immediately surrender the certificate to the Clerk of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

House Counsel Pro Bono Practice

House attorneys may provide pro bono legal services if the attorney:

  • Associates with an approval legal services organization that receives, or is eligible to receive, funds from the Legal Services Corporation or is working on a case or project through the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program.
  • Performs all activities authorized by this Rule under the supervision of an attorney who is an active member of the South Carolina Bar employed by, or participating as a volunteer for, the legal services organization or the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program and who assumes professional responsibility for the conduct of the matter, litigation, or administrative proceeding where the attorney participates.
  • Attorneys cannot ask for nor receive compensation of any kind for the legal services provided to the client.

When representing a client through an approved legal services organization or the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program, attorneys may:

  • Appear in any court or before any tribunal in South Carolina if the client consents in writing to the appearance and the supervising attorney has given written approval. The written consent and approval must be filed with the court or tribunal and brought to the attention of the judge or presiding officer.
  • Prepare pleadings and other documents to be filed in any court or before any tribunal in South Carolina on behalf of the client. The supervising attorney must sign the documents.
  • Otherwise engage in the practice of law as is necessary for the representation of the client.

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